I’ll be honest: I often write about outrage bait. And boy, was I outraged.

As a columnist, I sometimes mine the bounty of ridiculous things happening in the world, though I try to be a little more nuanced than “ME MAD! LESLIE SMASH!” And I only write about subjects that I find personally compelling, which is why I was all set to produce a banger on the video of the Brazilian half-marathon runner who skipped a cute hugging moment with her kids, who had been walked onto the path by their dad just feet before the finish line.

Her husband was filmed giving an exasperated shrug as she sprinted on to the win, leaving the cute moment and her competitors in the dust. The internet, predictably, went wild, calling him entitled and evil and pondering when the divorce papers would be filed. As an old, banged-up runner, I had many opinions about this man either cluelessly or purposely putting his kids in trampling range of fast runners who shouldn’t have to dodge children trying to have a Hallmark moment.

I was going to touch on the toughness of competitive running and the importance of mothers having their own moments to shine in hard-earned pursuits that have nothing to do with motherhood. Then I read the truth: The runner, Luciana Lourenção, posted a video on Instagram in her native Portuguese, explaining that the kids joining her at the end of the course was actually her idea.

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Whoops.

Because it wasn’t a major, money-making competition but just a hometown event, “We decided to take the girls to the race so that I could cross the finish line with them,” she said. But when the appointed moment happened, Lourenção realized she could be the first woman to win this particular race, and that another female runner was on her heels. Pausing for that photo finish could cost her that historic distinction, so her competitive instinct kicked in, and she sprinted around her family and powered to the win. Good for her!

This new, truthful context not only vindicates Lourenção’s husband, Pedro — he wasn’t a jealous thwarter, just a dedicated husband trying to fulfill his wife’s wishes — but makes a powerful statement about how virtual pitchforks are aimed and ready to march before we know why we’re sharpening them.

Have you ever heard of the “Milkshake Duck” trope? It’s where a seemingly sweet or heroic character captures the internet’s heart, like a cute duck slurping on a milkshake, until a few days later someone does actual research and finds out that the duck is a stone-cold racist. Pedro found himself in a reverse “Milkshake Duck” situation, where everyone — yes, including myself — assumed the worst about him before anyone bothered looking for the truth. The original stories didn’t even mention his or his wife’s name.

Why get facts when you can just be mad?

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There’s so much at play here: the general outrages we see played out in the world, writ small, instant and violent on X and TikTok. We sit at home, helpless to do anything about the hate and unrest, so we scroll looking for somewhere to channel it. I do my best not to get caught up in it, because my job as a journalist is not to just grab a torch but to explain the fire, whether I’m writing about Harrison Butker’s controversial commencement speech or Rep. Jasmine Crockett’s refusal to let a colleague’s stupid jab about her eyelashes go unanswered.

I had decided what I was going to write about the Lourençãos based on what I understood of the situation, then extrapolate my own feelings about taking what your partner loves seriously. I was even going to contrast Pedro with the story of my then-fiancé Scott near the finish line at the half-marathon of the 2009 Baltimore Running Festival. As I stumbled, slow and exhausted, he hugged me several yards from the end, encouraging me by explaining how many elderly women and guys pushing strollers had finished before me. (”Maisie Jackson of Woodlawn, 76 years old!” he said.) It was rude and hilarious because Scott knew it was going to propel my tired carcass, and because I was in absolutely no danger of winning anything, at any time.

But Luciana Lourenção is a personal trainer and a real competitor, who also has an apparently supportive partner. Pedro’s no doubt gone to other races and been with their daughters while his wife trains. In Luciana’s social media post, she called Pedro an “excellent husband” and “incredible father.” This completely negates the original perception of him as some loser trying to steal his wife’s thunder by literally thrusting her domesticity in her face.

I absolutely stand by the idea that every mother deserves to have her “thing” if she wants it, from racing to roller derby, because we don’t stop being people when we have kids. I had that kind of support in my marriage, and still have it with my family and friends. I’m so glad Luciana Lourenção does, too. I just wish we’d figured that out before hauling out the pitchforks. Let’s leave them in the barn, OK?

Leslie Gray Streeter is a columnist excited about telling Baltimore stories — about us and the things that we care about, that touch us, that tickle us and that make us tick, from parenting to pop culture to the perfect crab cake. She is especially psyched about discussions that we don't usually have. Open mind and a sense of humor required.

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